Take a rain check on boating on floodwaters

15 September 2016

Don't boat in floods 

Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV), a branch of Transport Safety Victoria, has issued a warning about the risks associated with activities on flooded waterways.

Peter Corcoran, Director, Maritime Safety, said heavy rain has made waterways in Warrnambool, Horsham, Hamilton, Loddon, Hindmarsh, West Wimmera, Gannawarra and Gipplsand unsafe for boating activities.

"Boaters, kayakers, canoeists and water skiers should stay off floodwaters because:

  • rising water levels mean that previously visible hazards, such as trees and stumps, are now being submerged and creating risks for anyone on the water
  • increased water flows and the associated faster moving water are creating safety risks, for example, making steering more difficult or paddling more tiring
  • debris is being washed downstream that could be large enough to damage or overturn vessels, or affect their ability to be manoeuvred around danger spots.

"If sudden releases of water from storages become necessary, waterway users near dam walls and water-regulating infrastructure face significant safety issues from the turbulence," Mr Corcoran said.

The local councils, waterway managers and water authorities are continually monitoring the waterways and, in extreme cases, may close some waterways if they are unsafe.

All agencies involved in emergency management and response say the same thing – stay out of floodwaters.

"The safety risks created by fast flows, debris, submerged hazards and changed water levels will remain for some time after the rain stops.

"Waterway users need to assess the risks before they resume their activities and exercise extreme care.

"With school holidays approaching, MSV is advising families to contact the appropriate local council, waterway manager or water authority for advice on the condition of the waterway before deciding to go out," Mr Corcoran added. Flood warnings can be found at http://emergency.vic.gov.au